10 things you need to know today: September 29, 2023

House committee starts Biden impeachment inquiry, court rejects Trump's request to delay civil fraud trial, and more

Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. James Comer
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.)
(Image credit: Celal Gunes / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

1. House committee launches Biden impeachment inquiry

The House Oversight Committee on Thursday held its first hearing in a Republican effort to find grounds for impeaching President Biden. Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) opened the session by saying "the Bidens and their associates" made more than $20 million through shell companies allegedly selling "Joe Biden himself." But the first three witnesses called by Republicans, including a constitutional lawyer and forensics expert, said there was no evidence Biden committed any impeachable offenses like receiving bribes. Democrats called the inquiry a "fishing expedition" and argued that Republicans simply want to impeach Biden as payback for the two impeachments of former President Donald Trump. NBC News, USA Today

2. Appeals court rejects Trump bid to delay civil fraud trial

A New York appeals court on Thursday rejected former President Donald Trump's request to delay his civil fraud trial on charges he inflated property values to get favorable loans and insurance. The decision paved the way for the trial to start as soon as Monday. The judge presiding over the case, Arthur Engoron, already ruled this week that Trump is liable for fraudulent valuations and stripped him of control over New York properties central to his family real estate business. New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses Trump of exaggerating property values and his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion. The New York Times

3. Government tells workers shutdown appears imminent

Federal agencies notified workers on Thursday that a government shutdown appeared imminent, as a standoff in the House made it unlikely Congress would approve funding before a Sept. 30 deadline. Senators have approved a stopgap proposal to fund the government for a month, but House Republicans remain deadlocked, with far-right Freedom Caucus members demanding deep cuts unacceptable to other lawmakers. The order from the Biden administration launched formal preparations to halt most operations. Some programs, including Social Security and the U.S. Postal Service, operate outside Congress' annual appropriations bills and would not be affected. Essential employees, including active military personnel and TSA agents, would work without pay. The Washington Post

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4. Biden says Trump threatens democracy

President Biden warned Thursday that former President Donald Trump poses a threat to U.S. democracy, in an unusually blunt attack on his likely challenger in the 2024 presidential election. "There's something dangerous happening in America now," Biden said in Arizona, where he was honoring the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "There's an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy: the MAGA movement." Biden said the rest of the Republican Party is "driven and intimidated by MAGA Republican extremists." The Trump campaign responded on X, formerly Twitter, that "Radical Left Democrats, now led by Joe Biden, are the greatest threat to democracy the United States of America has ever faced." CNN, The Washington Post

5. Gunman in bulletproof vest kills 3 in Rotterdam

A man wearing a bulletproof vest shot and killed three people at an apartment and a medical school in the Dutch city Rotterdam on Thursday, according to police in the Netherlands. The gunman fatally shot a 39-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter in the apartment, then started a fire. He went next to nearby Erasmus University medical school and fatally shot a 46-year-old male teacher, and started another fire. Medical personnel fled with patients, some rolled out in beds. Police arrested a 32-year-old suspect nearby, and identified him as an Erasmus student who lived in the building where the mother and daughter were shot. Rotterdam's chief public prosecutor, Hugo Hillenaar, said the attack appeared "targeted." The Guardian

6. Bombing kills dozens celebrating Muslim prophet's birthday in Pakistan

A bomb exploded near a mosque in Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 52 people at a rally celebrating the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Dozens more were injured in the blast, which struck during a procession involving hundreds of people in Baluchistan province, where Islamist militants have launched recent attacks. Some of the injured were rushed to hospitals in critical condition. Days before the bombing, government officials had told police to be on maximum alert due to the threat of militant attacks on the rallies and meal distributions that typically mark the holiday, known as Mawlid an-Nabi. The Associated Press

7. California sets $20 minimum wage for fast food workers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday signed a state law that will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 per hour starting next April. The measure will give the state's fast food workers the industry's highest guaranteed wage. California's minimum wage for other workers is $15.50 an hour — also among the highest in the nation. Newsom said the law recognizes that fast food workers are often primary earners in low-income households, contrary to the common belief that most are teens on their first jobs. "That's a romanticized version of a world that doesn't exist," Newsom said. "We have the opportunity to reward that contribution, reward that sacrifice and stabilize an industry." The Associated Press

8. Teen arrested for felling of iconic tree in England

Police in northern England arrested a 16-year-old boy accused of deliberately cutting down a famous tree that stood for nearly two centuries next to Hadrian's Wall, a Roman landmark. The iconic tree at Sycamore Gap was made famous when it appeared in Kevin Costner's 1991 film "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," NPR reported. "The tree is a world-renowned landmark and the vandalism has caused understandable shock and anger throughout the local community and beyond," Northumbria Police said in a statement. "It's basically the iconic picture that everyone wants to see," said Alison Hawkins, who walked the Hadrian's Wall path Thursday and was among the first to see the damage. "You can forgive nature doing it but you can't forgive that." NPR

9. Netflix ships last DVDs

Netflix distribution centers in California, Texas, Georgia and New Jersey are mailing out their last discs as what is now a video-streaming company ends its DVD-by-mail service. The DVD service helped Netflix transform how Americans get their entertainment, grabbing market share from Blockbuster and other video rental stores. It peaked at more than 20 million subscribers. In 2011, Netflix separated the DVD service from its streaming business, which now has 238 million subscribers worldwide and brought in $31.5 billion last year. The DVD customers, now numbering fewer than a million and accounting for $146 million last year, will get to keep their final discs as a parting gift. The Associated Press

10. Actor Michael Gambon, Dumbledore in 'Harry Potter' films, dies at 82

Irish actor Michael Gambon, best known to young fans as Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" movies, has died at age 82. His publicist, Clair Dobbs, said Thursday that Gambon died Wednesday after a "bout of pneumonia." Actor Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the films, called Gambon "one of the most brilliant, effortless actors I've ever had the privilege of working with," and with his death "the world just became considerably less fun." Before appearing in the popular movies centered around a school for young wizards, Gambon was already one of Britain's leading actors. He was knighted for his contributions in 1998. ABC News, Variety

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